Lazarsfeld's Legacy| Research and Publishing at the Bureau of Applied Social Research: The Gendering of Commercial and Academic Work

Elena D. Hristova


Paul F. Lazarsfeld’s Bureau of Applied Social Research (BASR) at Columbia University was a well-known center for research into media and mass communication. Little known, however, are the lasting consequences of the engendering of different types of research at the bureau—academic as male and commercial as female. This forum contribution examines the Bureau of Applied Social Research Records, 1944–1977 collection guide, located online and at the Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library Collection, to produce a quantitative record of women’s and men’s publications. This record shows that women were tracked into and disproportionately worked on commercial studies, while men disproportionately worked on academic studies. The commercial studies kept the bureau financially afloat and subsidized the academic studies. This gendered split meant that women were more likely to be used as hired hands for commercial studies. As such, they have largely been erased from stories about the BASR, rather than be remembered as foundational figures in communication and media studies.


women, gender disparity, commercial studies, academic research, publications, BASR

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